Category: Animal Fiction


Chapter 13 Moving Day

Why is it every time I lie down to take a really good nap, Mamoo comes up with some new idea that will take a whole lot of effort on everybody’s part Ö especially mine? Right in the middle of the Westminister Dog Show on TV (not my favorite by a long shot) she decided we had been retired long enough. Now what? I thought, watching her warily through sleepy eyelids.
“You are soooo bored Sam,” she said, meaning, of course, she was bored. I agreed that a few new faces wouldn’t have hurt, but Mamoo doesn’t do things half way. She sort of leaned back and gave me one of those long, appraising stares and muttered something about deducting me as a business expense? If she didn’t keep taking me to the vet and the groomer I wouldn’t be as expensive. This worried me until I realized “deduct” didn’t mean eliminate.
It seems as if we live in the white car. After a long trip up from the Conch Republic, I thought we would stay in the old house, go out to La Belle and check out the park. But it was not to be. Mamoo put a sign in the yard and showed many strange people through the inside of our house, even in the closets.
Peter, the man who used to keep all the garden flowers beautiful, stopped coming. I’m sorry about that. I liked him. Now, Mr. McCrawley, with his oil-drenched hair, cuts the grass while the weeds choke out everything else.
Mamoo has taken to going to the park at very strange hours. Even before I wake up she is shaking me to go with her for a ride. We drive around town until it gets light enough to turn off the headlamps. We get a coffee for Mamoo and a fried egg sandwich for me. Sometimes she brings the rolled up paper that appears at the front door every morning, stops at the park, lets me out and writes marks on the back page.
One morning-to me it was still night-Mamoo woke me up, dressed and picked up the paper. We drove to the park and, while I was doing my thing in the dark of the trees, Mamoo stayed in the car and started with the pen and paper. I saw him out of the corner of my eye. Here was my chance to be a hero.
He wasn’t a bad guy, he only wanted to hassle her a little. Over my dead body. He had on a uniform, not one of my favorite types, and a gun on his hip. Now I knew I didn’t like him. He leaned in the car window (which I knew was down because I had barked it down myself). “ What are you doing here?” the officer asked. I edged in closer. There was no way he could see me in the trees in the dark. One false move and he was a goner.
“ I’m sitting here trying to do a crossword puzzle and think about important things at the same time,” she replied. Mamoo looked up, saw me as I started for him and held me back with a command only a few feet away.
“Is that your dog?” He asked. “You bet!” growled I.
“Officer,” said she, “I really can’t control him, you outta get back in your car.” And he did, verrry, verrry, slowly. Oh, the joys of being a dog.
I have given up hoping I will ever have a permanent place to lay my head. Mamoo has this itch to move every time I get acclimated to the surroundings. This time it's different though. This time it’s like what happened to me at the farm, the time when I got left alone.
One day, two people named the Crawfords drove up in an old-timey auto Mamoo called a Graham. They walked through the house and I knew they were going to live here without us. I could smell ferret all over them. I tried to look in the car to find him but he wasn’t there. I would have loved to chase a ferret up and down the stairs. They look like they are all tail and no body -- and the aroma is unbelievable. Even Mamoo held her nose.
Bertha and Sue, more of Ella May’s children, came to pack dishes and glasses. Bill and Hugh, their husbands, took apart the beds and brought all the furniture down from the upstairs and up from the basement. It was very crowded in the big living room. The rug went in a truck and many of the little things went with the people who came to look at them.
This new idea of Mamoo’s had something to do with the house in Canada because she packed lots of things she puts on beds. Seems a waste of time, because no sooner does she put them on then she takes them off and puts them in the chugging machine. When she gets really energetic she even puts MY bed in the chugging machine. It takes forever to get it to smell right again.
Beula was jammed with stuff. Blanket stuff and pillow stuff. Boxes of little machines and sacks of dishes. Me, I travel light; one bowl for water, one for food and a little machine that opens the goodie can.
I would hide when strange people came in case Mamoo decided I should go with them. Without the rug in the big room I couldn’t stand up; I spent my time in the basement where the rug was good and solid.
Everyday, after the crowds of garage-sale shoppers had gone, we loaded up whatever was left into the car and took it down to a big auction building. Mamoo gave it to a very loud man who sang into a noise-making machine. He gave Mamoo slips of paper in return. It didn’t seem a fair exchange and I let him know it in no uncertain terms. I hate it when some loudmouth takes advantage of Mamoo.
Everything moveable in the house was taken down off the walls and put in large cardboard boxes. There was nothing left to sleep on or eat out of except my bowl and bed. I thought it meant I was to go to live with Ella Mae, Patsy or someone else. I didn’t want to do that. For all her peculiarities, Mamoo was the woman I loved.
I tried all my usual tricks like hiding in the car. But this time it didn't work. Mamoo was very cross and nervous about everything. I couldn’t please her.
“Sam, would you please find a place to squat and get out of the way? You are becoming a nuisance.” I knew my days were numbered. The house was full of people: Mamoo’s sister, Mamoo’s friends and all the helpers came every day to do an assortment of jobs and say good-bye.
There were little stickers on everything and the Crawfords were dropping in at all hours. We were going to their house too but they hid the ferret on the back porch away from my killer instincts. They were smart; I would have killed it.
Usually, when we are going somewhere, Mamoo puts my bowl and bed in the car. That’s how I know I’m going too. I even sat by my bowl and called to the people as they hurried back and forth. Nobody touched it. We finally had to go to Gaga’s house to stay because there was no place to sleep, no tables to eat off, nothing in the cold box and the phones were packed.
I heard her talking to the phone about this project and it seems she is planning to let strangers sleep in her beds in Canada and eat breakfast with her in the morning. For someone who considers a healthy breakfast to be six oatmeal cookies and a can of diet iced tea, this should prove to be an interesting summer.
When we visited Gaga (on our way to Canada), she laughed and said to Mamoo, “Honey, you haven’t made your bed since you were in college. How are you going to adjust to changing six beds a day?” Good point! Mamoo has always said it seems a waste of time to make up a bed that you plan to get right back in. We do agree strongly on the value of the nap.
Gaga is part of the Mamoo family like Patsy and Sheila. (All Mamoo's family has Spencer in their names. That is how you can tell they are part of it.) She is older and knows more about dogs than the others combined. I can smell the remainders of a long-ago dog who lived here and a man who used to sit in the chair I sleep in. She loves it when I wake her in the morning by licking her elbows. She is very delicate and I am afraid to kiss her anywhere else. I love the way she “poor Sams” me.
But I digress. The biggest truck you ever saw came chugging round the corner billowing smoke and screeching its brakes the day after our visit to Gaga. It took up the curb in front of Mrs. Wise’s house next door as well as the front of ours. This had to be the great-grandfather of them all. The cab of this truck was very high and I couldn’t get up into it to see inside. The driver climbed down, said ëhi’ and gave me an ear rub. He was short and wiry with long curly hair down his back and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. I couldn't figure out how he even reached the pedals.
It took many men, including Hugh and Bill, to take all the remains out of our house and store it in the van. The beds, the tables, and boxes upon boxes all went. But not my bed, nothing of mine was going on the truck.
Mamoo and I took a trip to the store where she bought boxes of bottles to put in the van. She said she was the smuggler of William Street. Hummm...William Street is in Canada. Good deal! We are taking the house things to Canada. What a relief! She won't leave me here, not if we are going to Canada.
Sure’nough, my bed was put on the truck last. “Did you think I would leave you, you sweetums doggums, you?” Mamoo crooned. What a relief. I think she holds me in suspense for fun.
Remember the funny old car the Crawfords came to the house in? Brad Crawford drove it around the corner and right up into the back of the van. Can you believe it? Aunt Buffy, Mamoo’s sister, came to watch the show, as did the neighbors. It was a circus.
Mamoo walked through the house one last time, tearing up a little, storing up memories like I did at La Belle. I checked all the chipmunk holes and the secret squirrel places. We were ready to go.
When it was dark, we picked up Sue. She had never been to Canada and was delighted to help us get settled. We stopped at the usual rest areas, but this time there were different smells. I could barely find mine from a year ago. Of course, we made many stops at the Golden Arches.
Sue drove some and Mamoo too until we got to the big bridge. “Miss Peggy, where is we?” Sue said. (Everyone, but me, called Mamoo Peggy.) “I don’t like goin’ over no bridges.”
Well, I didn’t either, but it was something we had to do to get to the other side of the Detroit River and into Canada. Even I knew that.
There was quite a to-do at the border. The guards didn’t know how to handle Sue. “I wants to go home,” she cried. “I don’t wants to see this here Canada.”
Mamoo was getting really ticked off. “Sue, for God’s sake, we have a lot to do. Our things are sitting in Stratford right now waiting for us. You will like it when we get to the house and you can start unpacking.” The guard let us go and we landed on the other side to start the final leg of our journey.
I could smell myself at the information booth where we usually stopped after crossing the border. I munched happily on a box of TimBits while Sue wailed.
“What kind of country is this, Miss Peggy, I don't see no MacDonalds anywhere?” complained Sue. “And no American flags, neither.”
Our arrival at 30 Elizabeth Street in Stratford on that rainy May morning was a shock. This wasn’t the house I remembered. I wanted the old house. This one didn’t even have a yard, only mud everywhere. It was cold and wet and the kitchen appliances were in the living room.
Low and behold, the van, with all the furniture from the old house in Kentucky, was there waiting for us at this new house. Billy too.
Billy helped carry in all the pieces of furniture from the van. Mamoo drove him downtown to the customs house where the old black car had been unloaded. He drove it to Elizabeth Street with me in the back. The seats in the old Graham car were black leather, very slippery and the windows didn’t come down when I barked. The radio and the heater didn’t work either. I thought it was a pile of junk but Billy loved it.
“This car is a classic, Sam, a 1941 Hollywood which still runs. You should be proud to ride in it.” Mamoo tried to drive it but she couldn’t fit behind the wheel. I had a big chuckle over her huffing and puffing, trying to squeeze herself into the front seat. “You are just a spoiled and ignorant dog.” If that meant that I like the Caddie better then she’s right.
Billy and his helpers had to put stuff anywhere they could because other workmen were in the house doing all kinds of noisy things. Furniture was piled everywhere: no place to sleep, no place to rest, no place to be. The furnace didn’t work and none of the human potty places had potties. Strange men attached to long orange cords hammered and sawed until the pounding made my head ache.
The rain never stopped; even at my favorite forest. I didn't go very often because the trucks came early and blocked our driveway. Mamoo yelled a lot, started smoking again and said martinis were a great tranquilizer.
I had a bit of rug to lie on but they still stepped over me, around me and sometimes on me. I ran away once, back to the old house we had rented the year before. But it was empty. I ran on down to cry on Polly and David. They were sweet and understanding but after a night with them, Mamoo came to get me.
Finally, I lost it completely and started to shake. I couldn’t stop. Mamoo took me to the Top O' the Hill canine rest home where I slept in my old cage for two days. There I saw all my friends, the Clumber spaniels, and caught up with their latest news.
“The Clumbers won the best in show ribbon at Westminister this past winter, Sam,” my favorite Clumber said. “We all knew his sire because he was from our line.”
My food arrived on time for a change and with a hot bath, plenty of sleep and walks on the farm, I started to feel canine again. Peace and quiet reigned. I finally felt able to go back and help Mamoo face the music. Sue and Mamoo spent days taking everything out of all the boxes they had spent all that time filling up. It was the whole thing again in reverse, but harder because everything was topsy-turvy.
Mamoo finally took Sue to the bus station and sent her back to Kentucky. “Hugh an’ them is fetching’ me in Detroit. Don't you worry none about me, Miss Peggy.” Mamoo shook her head thinking about those country boys in the big, bad city. I wished I were going too.
Besides Mamoo, Billy is my best friend. He comes to see me almost every day and we go for rides in the old car to places where they have many peculiar looking cars. He goes out at night to drive-ins and talks to the buildings, like back home. He loves to drive Mamoo’s funny, old car. He has yellow hair and is in high school. (He is nothing like Vernon, though) He drives a tow truck and sometimes a brown car and likes to play tug of war with me in the park. He also likes to play the music box in the car as loud as it will go, even when he is not in the car. He has two friends who are as funny as he is. I really look forward to his visits because there will be something interesting happening.
Once, during a really bad day, of workmen, noise and confusion, I slipped away to see if my old friends were still down the street. First I stopped to see Jean and Reggie. Jean is elderly and frail like Gaga and smokes lots of cigarettes that make me cough. Reggie is a grey schnauzer who visits once a week when his humans are busy. I sniffed around the house next door where there used to be rabbits. No luck.
Then I sidled down to check out those large birds I told you about. There were quite a few little ones, but you can't mess with them when they have little ones. The big ones will kill you Fer sure!
"Leave usssss alone you big, black nasssssty thing or you will be missssssing an eye," they hissed at me. A cheery greeting from the friendly swans on the Avon River.
Across the street from this bird menagerie, David opened his door when I barked. I sat with him until Polly came in with Pete and Smiley. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to see them again. I was now feeling my old self and over my canine melt down. I could relax and have a fun visit with my friends.
Smiley was fatter than ever and still speaking his secret language to Pete. Pete could still leap all the way up and down the staircase and my favorite rug was in the same place. They invited me to spend the night. I slept at the foot of their bed with my two friends beside me. With all of the moving around since I started to live with Mamoo, it was wonderful to know some things never change.

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